Tag Archives: Croatian Air Force

Ukraine happy to buy all Croatian MiG-21 Fishbeds

UPDATED 19 April 2016 | In an interesting turn of events Ukraine has now said it would love to buy the 12 Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbeds back that were recently refurbished and modernized in Odesa, Ukraine.

Update 19 April | Sources in Croatia now claim that several MiG-21s delivered by Ukraine are not the same aircraft Croatia thought it purchased earlier. Identification plates apparently show the aircraft to be five years older than the jets originally offered by Kiev.

The move from Kiev comes after Croatian radio reported an investigation into the finances behind the deal of 14 million euros. Some say fraud and bribing took place, since the Ukrainian offer was 5 million euros cheaper than of the cheapest other bidder.

“We are at war, so it is good to have great aircraft,” an Ukrainian official was quoted referring to the conflict in the east of the country with pro-Russian rebel forces supported by the regular Russian military.

Sending back the MiG-21s seems no option for Croatia however. The dozen Fishbeds flying from Zagreb/Pleso Airbase are the only fast combat asset the Balkan country has and are essential. Not only for the country’s air defence and combat air support to ground forces, but also to fulfill commitments to NATO of which Croatia has been a member since 2009.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Croatian Air Force MiG-21BIS that was recently modernised in Ukraine (Image © Ivan Krpan)

Croatia re-establishes interest in Swedish Gripen, may opt for new jets

Sweden responded to a re-established request by the Government of Croatia on the possible purchase or lease of the SAAB JAS 39 C/D Gripen multi-role fighter.

A Croatian Air Force MiG-21 (Image © MORH)
RELATED POST: Croatia celebrates return of the MiGs
According to the Swedish Defence Export Authority (Försvarsexportmyndigheten; FXM) information was sent on Friday 23 October regarding the purchase of 8 to 12 new-to-build aircraft.

It is the latest development in talks that go back all the way to 2007, when Croatia started to look for a future replacement for its aging but recently in Ukraine modernized Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 “Fishbed” fighters. Earlier Croatia seemed to be interested in leasing Swedish Air Force Gripens, but partly because those aircraft are in high demand Zagreb now seems to be willing to look at new aircraft instead.

Meanwhile a group of 150 Brazilian engineers arrived at the SAAB plant in Linköping last week, starting their training in building and maintaining the newer Gripen E/F model of which the Força Aérea Brasileira is purchasing at least 36 units, while leasing possible 12 to 16 aircraft until the bigger and more capable Gripen E/F is ready. Talks with Slovakia on the lease of the Gripen C/D are also still underway.

The C/D model of the Gripen already flies with the air forces of Sweden, the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Gripen C in action with the Czech Air Force (Image © Martin Král)

Croatian Air Tractors prevent worse

The Croatian Air Force and Air Defence (Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo i Protuzračna Obrana) is very happy with their Air Tractor AT-802 Fire Bosses. By enrolling them into active patrols of fire risky areas they have proven to prevent worse.

An illustration of the effectiveness of the new working method – let the Air Tractors patrol with the heavier Canadair CL-415s on stand-by – presented itself on 3 August 2015. Scouting the area around Omis in the Split-Dalmatia area an Air Tractor pilot located a starting fire, started engaging it and requested immediate reinforcements which came in the form of two Canadairs. Moreover, a Croatian Air Force Mi-8MTV flew additional fire crews into the area.

In order to react faster the Croatians have put a single Canadair on stand-by in Dubrovnik since 22 July 2015, to help fighting fighters in the south of the country.

During the last five days the Air Tractors flew 13 patrol missions, locating nine wild fires. The Croatian Air Force began their own fire-fighting training in December 2014, at the 93. Air Force and Air Defence Base in Zemunik on a single Air Tractor AT-802 Fire Boss two-seater. Before that Spain provided the training.

The Fire Squadron (PPE) of the Croatian Air Force and Air Defence has a total of six Canadair CL-415s and 6 Air Tractor AT-802Fs (5 single-seaters, 1 two-seat).

Source: Croatian Ministry of Defence
Featured image: Croatian AT-802 Fire Bosses provide essential fire-fighting patrols in Croatian skies (Image © HRZ i PZO)

Croatia celebrates return of the MiGs

The Croatian Air Force this week celebrated the return of its MiG-21 Fishbed fleet to full strength following a major overhaul and upgrade program in Ukraine. The final aircraft was delivered on 16 July. Croatia now operates a total of twelve MiG-21s

The modernization program started two years ago with the signing of a contract worth 17.5 million EUR. It involved the overhaul and upgrade of seven Croatian MiG-21s and the purchase of five Ukrainian MiGs. The war in eastern Ukraine caused delays in the program, setting back last week’s final delivery by close to a year.

All Croatian MiG-21s were on show this week during a combined ceremony, exercise and airshow at Pleso airbase outside the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

A great sight: three MiGs lined up at Zagreb Pleso airbase. (Image © Ivan Krpan)
A great sight: three MiGs lined up at Zagreb Pleso airbase. (Image © Ivan Krpan)

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Croatian Air Force MiG-21 (Image © MORH)

Israel puts surplus F-16s on the market

‘Well used’ is a term that would definitely apply to former Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16A and B models. Nevertheless, Tel Aviv has offered the type to Croatia as a replacement for its even more vintage MiG-21s. At the same time, Colombia is said to be interested in former Israeli F-16s to take the place of its troubled Kfir fighter aircraft – yes, also from Israel.

Israel received its first F-16A Netz (Hawk in Hebrew) in July 1980, the irony being that it concerned aircraft that were first destined for Iran. The Netz saw extensive use  with the (IAF) and made headlines by bombing the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq on 7 June 1981.

Over the last decades, F-16C/D Barak (Lightning) and F-16I Sufa (Storm) took over frontline duties, with the Netz being used to train pilots. Recently, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 has been taking over the training role.

Surplus F-16s are now being offered to Croatia in ACE configuration. This Israel-made update involves a new fire control radar, a helmet-mounted display capability and new cockpit displays. The bid sees competition from Sweden (Saab Gripen C/D) and the US (used F-16C/D).

Meanwhile, Colombia is not happy at all with its small fleet of Israeli made Kfir fighter aircraft since one of the type crashed on 31 December last year. Rumours about a possible Mirage 2000 deal with France proved unfounded, and now the Colombians seem to have turned to Israel once again, inquiring about the F-16 Netz.

According to sources, the ACE modification also added about 1,000 flight hours of service life to the old F-16s, which without a doubt are among the most hard-used F-16s anywhere.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Two Israeli F-16A Netz jets come in for landing. (Image © IAF)